Attitude is the principal thing in life. It is not the
conditions in life which change life for us, but mostly
it is our attitude toward life and its conditions upon which
depends our happiness or unhappiness. With a sympathetic
attitude one is able to sympathize with those who deserve
sympathy and even with those who do not deserve sympathy.
It is not the deserving or undeserving persons, but mostly
it is the attitude with which they are seen. A person who
is impressed by wrong, to him there is much wrong in the
world and less right. The more he looks at life with this
attitude the more wrong he sees. In the end to him every
thing becomes wrong. It is a kind of mental agitation against
one thing a person met with in life which was wrong, which
makes him see wrong in everything. A person who has once
burnt his lips drinking hot milk blows the buttermilk to
cool it before he drinks. The human mind is like a compass.
If it is once made to point out wrong, whatever way you
may take it, it will seek its own point all the time. So
it is with the doubting person. A person who begins to doubt
his enemy next doubts his friend, then he comes to doubt
his nearest and dearest friends in life, and he cannot make
his mind trust anybody in the world. With the best motive
one may approach him, in every way one may show him sympathy,
he will still think, 'Perhaps in this sympathy there is
hidden an enmity.' It is generally the case with human beings
that their attitude becomes fixed. It is not a rare thing,
seldom met with. But the one who trusts will trust everyone
and under all conditions, and who idealizes and sees good
will see good in, and will idealize, even undeserving ones.
No doubt a better attitude fixed is preferable to the
bad one, but the most desirable thing is to have the attitude
un-fixed, moveable. One must be free to form an opinion
about a person and to adopt a method of working under certain
conditions, without having to subject one's attitude to
some preconceived ideas one has in the subconscious mind.
To be able to approve or disapprove, to be able to like
or dislike, to be able to choose or give up. Goodness is
better than wickedness, but freedom is higher than goodness.
By freedom is meant not only freedom from outer influences
but freedom from certain inner influences which obsess one's
life, often making it wretched and miserable through all
The attitude becomes high and broad when one looks at
life from a higher point of view. When the point of view
is not high the range of man's sight becomes limited; man
becomes narrow in his outlook on life, and in his feelings,
thought, speech and action the same is expressed. Why is
God pointed out on high, toward the sky? Why not toward
the earth, for God is everywhere? The reason is that within
the range of God's sight the whole universe stands as a
little grain of corn, as to one that flies in the balloon
and looks down from high the whole city comes within the
range of his sight, when he stands on earth he sees no further
than the four walls which keep the whole world covered from
What does it mean to become spiritual, or godly? It means
to have a higher view of life, to look at life from a higher
point of view. It is the high point of view in life which
ennobles the soul, it is by a broad outlook on life that
spiritual aristocracy is realized.
Sympathy is an awakening of the love element, which comes
on seeing another in the same situation in which one has
been at some time in one's life. A person who has never
experienced pain cannot sympathize with those suffering
pain. In the same way a person sympathizes with someone
whose honor or reputation has been harmed. The one who has
no honor or reputation himself would not mind for he does
not know what it is and what it is to lose it. A rich person
who has lost his money may be laughed at by someone who
has never had it. He can sympathize with him who has wealth,
and still more can he sympathize with him who had wealth
and lost it. Very often the young imagine they love their
mother and think they sympathize with their parents, but
they cannot come to the full realization of their love until
they reach that situation. Very often people think it cruel
and unkind of their friends when they do not receive sympathy
from them, but they do not know that to have sympathy does
not mean having a warm heart only, but it means having that
experience which reminds them of it, making them sympathetic.
Sympathy is something more than love and affection, for
it is the knowledge of a certain suffering which moves the
living heart to sympathy.
That person is living whose heart is living, and that
heart is living which has wakened to sympathy. The heart
void of sympathy is worse than a rock, for the rock is useful,
but the heart void of sympathy produces antipathy. Man is
most active physically and mentally, and when his heart
is not tuned to sympathy his mental and physical activity
takes quite a contrary direction, which leads to inharmony
and destruction. No doubt love, affection, or sympathy without
wisdom may seem profitless, as for instance, if a person
was crying with pain and his sympathetic friend, on hearing
his cry, began to weep with him, doubling his pain. Sympathy
can only be useful when man does not make the condition
of the person with whom he sympathizes worse, but makes
things better. The feeling of sympathy must be within, it
need not manifest purely as sympathy but as an action to
better the condition of the one with whom one has sympathy.
There are many attributes found in the human heart which
are called divine, but among them there is no greater and
better attribute than sympathy, by which man shows in human
form God manifested.
3. The Word 'Sin'
Many wonder if sin is an attitude or an action or a situation
or a result, and the answer is that all these combined together
make either a virtue or a sin. The absence of one from it
makes it incomplete, but all these together make it a complete
virtue or sin. Now the question is where it is originated,
what is the source of it, and the answer is that its origin
is in wrong thinking. Wrongdoing comes from wrong thinking
and wrong thinking comes from wrong feeling. And yet it
is difficult to distinguish between feeling right and wrong.
In short, as a definition of the word I would give this:
Every attitude, word, or action that deprives one of the
expected result, the result which is expected not only by
the mind but by the soul, may be called sin. That which
deprives one of peace, freedom, happiness, tranquility of
mind, and ever-increasing power of will may be called sin,
whatever be the action. It may be an action which all the
orthodox call virtue, and yet it cannot be a virtue. Why
is a virtue called a virtue? Because it brings happiness.
It is not because it is a particular kind of action, it
is because it brings to one what one's whole being is desiring.
It brings freedom, it brings the air of happiness, and it
gives by its pressure upon one's mind an increase of will
power, that is why it is called virtue. It is therefore
that no person in the world can judge another person, whether
superior to him in evolution or inferior. The person himself
is the best judge of his action.
In the Messages of the past it was necessary that a kind
of standard of virtue should be given to the world as a
law given from the Prophets of God, but at this period it
is not necessary. The Sufi Message does not bring to the
world a law made so plain as to say which is which, but
the principle of the Message is to waken in the spirit of
those who receive this Message that spirit that they may
recognize what is right and what is wrong, that they may
become masters of their destiny, and by their realization
of this their progress on the spiritual path may become
much higher as compared to those who during the period of
the prophets depended on being directed in their lives by
the law made by the prophets and carried out by the priests.
The Sufi Message does not bring this. It brings the spirit
of freedom, the air of happiness, that which gives happiness
with increased will power, which opens up freedom for those
who can recognize for themselves the difference between
right and wrong, and in that evolution of humanity is brought
a step forward from what it was before.
After a certain time the same principle that the Sufi
Message has brought to the world will culminate and will
appear as a law among nations, because the Message is the
throwing of the seed. Just now you do not see the fruits
and leaves, just now you see the seed which is hidden under
the dust and on the ground. But time will show the tree
with its fruit and its leaves. When the nations will recognize
the divine law and the law of the time then humanity will
no longer be ruled by the laws made by a few intellectual
people for their convenience and as they think right, but
the law will recognize the divine indication which is constantly
working through every soul, guiding it on the path, showing
it the way of its destiny. And when such a time will come
there will not be a necessity for so many laws, and as many
laws so many lawyers, and probably as many lawyers so many
law courts, and no end of prisons and no limit to the prisoners!
This will cease to exist. There will not be the necessity
of strict laws and severe punishments for nothing.
If one could only see that among one hundred people who
are sentenced by the courts there is hardly one to be blamed,
to be held responsible for his fault. And if there is anyone
to be held responsible, it is all we human beings. Why do
we not all work, why do we not all help them to kindle the
light in their soul that would show them their path plainly?
It is not necessary that the clergyman, the priest only
should be responsible for the evolution of each individual.
We must work in the capacity of brother and sister to everyone.
In the realization of the brotherhood in the Fatherhood
of God we must hold it as our duty, our sacred task, to
waken in our brother, with love, with respect, with modesty,
with humility, that power of understanding what is really
for his best, what can really benefit him. It is not the
mission of one person, it is the mission of every person.
And if we each considered our share of work in the Message
and showed it by our own example in the world we should
be doing a great duty toward God and humanity.
4. Qaza and Qadr: The Will, Human and Divine
The question of the will, human and divine, may be seen
from two points of view, from the wisdom point of view and
from the point of view of the ultimate truth. If words can
explain something, it is from the former point of view.
The latter point of view allows no word to be spoken in
the matter, for in the absolute truth two do not exist,
there is no such a thing as two, there is one alone. From
the wisdom point of view one sees one weaker, one stronger,
and one has to give in to the power of the other. This one
sees in all aspects of the creation. The larger fish eats
the little fish, but the little fish lives upon smaller
fishes. So there is no one in this world so strong that
there is not another person stronger still. And there is
no one in this world so weak that there is not another that
is weaker still. The other thing one can think about is
the opposing conditions and situations which stand before
a willing mind and a striving person like a stone wall,
so that with every wish of doing and accomplishing one does
not find one's way. It is this experience which has made
man say, 'Man proposes, God disposes.' The Hindu philosophers
have called these two great powers, one of which is as an
intention and the other the power of destruction, by the
names Brahma, the Creator, and Shiva, the Destroyer. And
the most wonderful part in this creation and destruction
is that what Brahma creates in a thousand years, Shiva destroys
in one moment. Since God is almighty, the wise see the hand
of God in the greater power, manifesting either through
an individual or by a certain condition or situation, and
instead of struggling too much against the difficulties
in life and instead of moaning over the losses which cannot
be helped, they are resigned to the will of God.
In short, every plan that a person makes and his desire
to accomplish that plan are often an outcome of his personal
will, and when his will is helped by every other will that
he comes in contact with in the path of the attainment of
a certain object, then he is helped by God, as every will
goes in the direction of his will and so his will becomes
strengthened, and often a person accomplishes something
which perhaps a thousand people would not have been able
to accomplish. Then there is another person who has a plan
or a desire, and finds opposition from every side. Everything
seems to go wrong, and yet he has the inner urge which prompts
him to go on in the path of attainment. There also is the
hand of God behind his back, pushing him on, forward in
his path, even though there might seem oppositions in the
beginning of his strife – but all's well that ends well.
The saintly souls, who consider it as their religion
to seek the pleasure of God and to be resigned to His will,
are really blessed, for their manner is pleasing to everyone,
for they are conscientious lest they should hurt the feelings
of anyone, and if by mistake they happen to hurt someone's
feelings they feel they have hurt God Whose pleasure they
must constantly seek, for the happiness of their life is
only in seeking the pleasure of God. They watch every person
and every situation and condition, and their heart becomes
so trained by constantly observing life keenly, as a lover
of music whose ears become trained in time, who distinguishes
between the correct and the false note. So they begin to
see in every desire that springs in their heart, if it is
in accordance with the will of God. Sometimes they know
the moment the desire has sprung. Sometimes they know when
they have gone halfway in the path of its pursuit. And sometimes
they know at the end of strife. But even then, at the end
of it, their willingness to resign to the will of God becomes
their consolation, even in the face of disappointment. The
secret of seeking the will of God is in cultivating the
faculty of sensing harmony, for harmony is beauty and beauty
is harmony. The lover of beauty in his further progress
becomes the seeker of harmony, and by trying always to maintain
harmony man will tune his heart to the will of God.
Questions and Answers (July 18th 1923)
Q Is there, in relation to Qaza and Qadr,
a difference in the path of the saint and the master?
A Certainly. The saint is resigned to Qaza, and the master
has regard for Qadr. Qaza is the will of God, and Qadr free
will of an individual.
Q What is free will? Can man in reality do a thing contrary
to the will of God?
A The answer is expressed in the first part of my lecture.
From the point of view of the absolute truth all is the
will of God. There is no such thing as free will. But from
the wisdom point of view there is a greater will, a mightier
will, and a smaller will. That shows one side perfection
– of God. The other side limitation – the fate of man.
Questions and Answers (July 19, 1923)
Q Will you please explain what you said yesterday about
the two paths, the one which leads to saintliness, and the
one which leads to mastership?
A There are two paths which lead to the goal, one of
the saint and the other of the master. In one path the will
is used in outward things, in the other path the will is
mostly used to control oneself, in other words for the time
being against oneself. This is the saintly path. It is wise,
before one knows of the will of God, first to handle one's
own will, and to use it knowing that it is given for some
great purpose in life. The one is the path of renunciation,
abnegation, resignation, and self-denial, from the beginning
to the end. And by doing this one arrives to that meeting
ground where one touches that divine perfection. And then
there is the path of the master. The path of firmness and
obstinacy, breaking and penetrating through every difficult
situation that comes before him. And so fighting all along
from the beginning to the end. In this he has to fight with
himself and with the life outside. Therefore the struggle
is both sides. And there is all the time the work of the
will power, and all through there is a battle. In this battle
all the conditions that one has to go through are of the
same character and nature as of the warfare. To be wounded
and to cause wounds, and to be hurt and to hurt another
also. And in this way it is a constant struggle. But still
for the higher aim, and for the greater gain. In the end
he strikes the same note which the saint has struck. Neither
the path of the saint is easy, nor of the master. The place
where they meet both become one. For the resignation brings
the saint to the same realization of the harmony with the
Infinite, as the struggle brings the master to the same
conviction in the end.
There is a third temperament, and that is the middle
temperament. In which temperament there is the saintly temperament
and the temperament of the master. That is the prophetic
temperament. Because the prophet begins his life with both,
struggle and resignation. One moment struggle, and another
moment resignation. Gain and resignation, continually going
on. And therefore in the prophet one sees the saint and
the master, both in one.
Opinion is an outcome of mind. It is an outburst of its
reasoning and judging faculty. And so, according to the
evolution of a particular mind, its opinion is. Opinions
clash when two people of different stages of evolution express
themselves. Therefore the wise are more reluctant to express
their opinion, whereas for the unwise it is easy. A simpleton
is only too glad to express his opinion uninvited. In the
ancient education of children that was the one thing that
was taught from childhood in good families, that the child
must not be too ready to express his opinion.
Very often in expressing one's opinion – rather in giving
one's idea about another – one places himself before others
for examination. As soon as a person has expressed his opinion
all others know what note of life he strikes – that is,
those who have the knowledge to know it. This does not mean
that one must not have an opinion. It would be like saying
one must not have a mind. Where there is a mind there will
be an opinion. Does it not very often happen to an intelligent
person that immediately after having expressed his opinion
he finds out how foolish he has been in expressing his opinion?
Often through nervousness, through lack of control over
oneself, or through lack of patience one expresses one's
opinion. That opinion is valuable which comes by invitation.
When someone has asked, 'Please tell me, what do you
think of it?', then the opinion becomes the answer to a
demand. Sometimes the opinion is nothing but the voice of
pride, and sometimes one's opinion is colored by one's favor
or disfavor. Sometimes opinion lacks knowledge of the object
on which it is formed. The wise therefore asks himself the
question whether he has thorough knowledge on the subject
upon which he expresses his opinion. If one took into consideration
that very often one does not know what effect the expression
of opinion may produce in the mind of the hearer, what reaction
it will have, desirable or undesirable, one would certainly
think much before expressing an opinion.
In the terms of the Sufis there is a phrase, dakhl
dar maqulat, interference with the expert. For a nurse
to attempt to direct the surgeon who is busy doing his work,
for the clerk to advise the judge while he is taking a case,
for a student of the violin to tell the composer what he
must do in a certain composition, all these things are meant
by that phrase. If one considered, in order to acquire a
thorough knowledge in any line of work, what study, what
practice, and what experience is required, and if one would
consider, by the time a person has reached a certain age,
what he has had to pass through and what he has had to learn,
one would certainly have consideration for the expert and
for age before expressing an opinion.
No doubt there are minds which show from childhood that
brilliance which another person may not acquire in the whole
life, and there is a genius who might show from youth a
capability which can hardly be found among the experts.
But even such gifted souls need consideration just the same.
I have seen those who promised to be really something in
life, who promised to accomplish something worthwhile in
their lives, in spite of all their energy, enthusiasm and
knowledge taking gentle steps in the path of life and halting
at every other step lest they should do a wrong thing instead
of the right. What is Sufism? It is wisdom. To learn wisdom
at every step in the path of life is the only work of the
Conscience is not only a record of one's experiences
and impressions gained in life, but it is a living voice
of the heart which makes all that is in the heart, so to
speak, dance in the light of justice. Therefore conscience
is a world in man, a world as living as the world in which
we live. And even more living than this, for the world of
conscience is durable, whereas the outer world is subject
to destruction. The word 'hiding' or 'covering' of a certain
thing is for our limited understanding. In point of fact
nothing can be covered, nothing can be hidden, since the
nature of life is action and reaction. Every outer experience
has a reaction within; every inner experience has its reaction
in the outside of the life. In the Quran it is said, 'Their
hands and feet will give evidence of their action.' The
idea, from the point of view of metaphysics, may be thus
explained, that there is no action which has not a reaction.
Every outer action has a reaction inwardly and every inner
action has a reaction outwardly.
The finer the person the finer his conscience, and grossness
makes the conscience gross. It is therefore that one person
is more conscientious about his doings than the other person,
one person repents more for his mistakes and failures than
another person. But the most interesting thing in the law
of life which one might watch is that the scheme of nature
is so made that a conscientious person is taken to task
more seriously by the scheme of nature for his evil-doing
than an ordinary person who never thinks what he says or
does. It might seem as if even God did not take notice of
his wrongdoing. According to the metaphysical point of view
in the soul of the conscientious God is more awake. In the
soul of the other person God slumbers, He does not take
serious notice of things. If one were to watch one's own
conscience one would no longer have a thirst for phenomena,
for there is no greater phenomenon than what is going on
within oneself and the action and reaction of every experience
in life which materializes and manifest to one's view in
various ways and forms. A clear conscience gives the strength
of a lion, but the guilty conscience might turn a lion into
a rabbit. But who is it in the conscience who judges? In
the spheres of conscience the soul of man and the spirit
of God both meet and become one. Therefore to a soul wide-awakened
judgment Day does not come after death, for him every day
is judgment Day.
No doubt the sense of right and wrong is different in
every mind. The right of one may be wrong to another, and
for another the wrong of one may be right. The law of action
is too complex to be put in words. For every step advanced
gives a certain amount of freedom of action, and as one
goes along further and further in the path of truth his
freedom is greater and greater at every step. And yet no
individual lives a life between the four walls of his individual
self, every person is related and connected with a thousand
ties with the others, known and unknown even to himself.
Therefore the souls do not need regard for themselves only,
but for the whole being, since every soul is a part in the
whole scheme of nature. And conscience is the test which
can voice that inner harmony in everything one thinks, says
or does, thus keeping the soul tuned to its proper note.
Question and Answer
Q Is not the disapproval of conscience due to the soul's
knowledge of certain consequences in the past?
A The whole life of the world is built on conventionality
and accepted ideas, and conscience is made on this edifice.
Conscience is not necessarily truth. Of absolute Truth there
is no word to be said. All else is Maya, illusion, and when
one looks from that point of view there is nothing wrong,
nothing right. If we accept right we must accept wrong.
The modern German scientist Einstein's theory is what the
Hindus have called Maya, illusion. Illusion caused by relativity.
The existence of everything is by our acceptance of it.
We accept a certain thing to be right, good, beautiful,
and once accepted that becomes part of our life, we have
accepted it to be, so it becomes. A mistake cannot be a
mistake unless we accept it as such. Our conscience tells
us, but we have first told our conscience, and our conscience
has accepted. Dervishes prove this by saying that fire will
not burn us. Hell-fire is created in the conscience, and
if in the objective world we can prove there is no such
thing as fire, certainly in the conscience it does not exist
either. The dervish jumps into the fire, and so proves his
case. The best way of testing life is to have conscience
as a testing instrument, to test and see if there is harmony
Conventionality is no doubt man-made, as art is man-made.
But as art is the finishing of nature, so in conventionality
there is the finishing of civilization. Conventionality
is no doubt acquired, not inherited, but at the same time
the love of conventionality is inherited also. Children
born in families in which conventionality has existed for
a long time are born with a tendency toward it and it becomes
natural for them to learn it, also while learning they do
not feel it to be foreign to their nature.
No doubt the extreme of all good and bad things is to
be avoided. Nature has helped as far as that the soul is
born on earth, and then comes education, in which is the
fulfillment of the purpose of life. Conventionality is not
the goal, and yet this, which makes civilization, is a bridge
which is connected with the goal of life. Conventionality
loses its virtue, as do all things, when they become void
of sincerity, for sincerity is the soul of every virtue.
Now coming to the question: what is conventionality?
It is a law of manner which is used in life for the convenience
and comfort of man. All that is man-made is as imperfect
as man. Therefore if one would try to find out the mistakes
of conventionality one could find them in every civilization
existing at any period of history. Nevertheless the most
civilized at any period have been the most conventional
people of the time.
During the age of aristocracy conventionality increased
in every part of the world and became the main part of education
for that time. And when revolt arose against the spirit
of aristocracy every good and bad thing that aristocracy
possessed was condemned. Whatever line of reform the people
in the world may adopt, they cannot be free from conventionality
and yet progress. These two things cannot be separated.
Only what can be done is to break one form of conventionality
and build another form, call the first form conventionality
and the next Bohemian life, it all comes to the same. There
is one thing that must be considered, that freedom is the
soul's purpose, and if, without hindering the conventionalities,
one can rise above them, so as to breathe the breath of
freedom, that would be the true democracy. Democracy void
of culture and refinement can very well be called anarchy.
But there are two laws which, if one considers them deeply,
will become useful in living the right life. It is one thing
to strive to achieve beauty, comfort, happiness and peace
in life for oneself. And it is another thing to share the
above-said things with the others – that is where the necessity
of conventionalities comes from. The one who is a slave
to conventionality is a captive, the one who is the master
of conventionality is the possessor of that kingdom of which
it is said in the Bible, 'Blessed are the meek, for they
shall inherit the Kingdom of the Earth.'
Questions and Answers (July 21st 1923)
Q Will you tell us which has the most influence on the
individual, heredity or environment?
A The heredity is the foundation of the house, and the
environment is the building. And from this you can understand
what is more useful and what less, and what has greater
influence and what has less.
Q The most civilized have been the most conventional
people. How does it come that the artist generally is not
conventional at all?
A The artist lives in his own world. The greater the
artist, the more of his own world he has. He does not live
in the world. All those who live in their own world, they
are out of the world, they have a civilization of their
own. But when it comes to the question of the worldly life,
life in the midst of the world, there comes the question
of conventionality. He cannot ignore conventionality, and
at the same time live in the midst of the world.
Paderewski did not have time enough to comb his hair.
That is another thing. But I do not think that he could
have come as a president without brushing his hair. As an
artist it is all right, but as a man in the midst of the
world, he has a world to face.
Q Is not conventionality very often the result of personal
taste and habits? How would it be possible to know what
to change and what to keep, when the conventionality of
each person depends upon his environment? There would surely
always be people who disagreed in this?
A Of course, this necessitates the exclusiveness of environments.
Also, this is the cause of divisions of humanity. And yet
no civilization can avoid it very well, however greatly
advanced in its thoughts. The progress will create necessities
of such kind. They will not admit it, but they will live
it just the same. But I should think that the best way of
understanding conventionality is the spiritual. Once a person
understands the spiritual moral, he does not need to learn
man-made refinement. It will come by itself, as soon as
man begins to regard the pleasure and displeasure of God
in the feeling of every person he meets, he cannot be but
most refined, whatever be the position of his life. He may
live in a cottage, but his manner will surpass the manner
Another thing, when man has begun to judge his own actions,
the fairness will develop in his nature. And therefore everything
he will do will be just and fair. He does not need very
much the study of outer conventionalities. He naturally
will become conventional. And the third thing is that Sufi
conception of God as the Beloved. When this conception is
practiced in everyday life, and one regards it in dealing
with everyone, that in everyone there is the Divine Spirit,
more or less, one would regard everyone with that devotion
and respect, with that thought and consideration which one
would give to the Beloved God. And in these three ways this
spiritual life teaches man the very depth of conventionalities.
And if a civilization was built, which no doubt will be
built one day, on a spiritual basis, the conventionalities
of the world will become genuine and worth having.
Q Do you think that conventionalities are fundamentally
based on common sense?
A Sometimes based on common sense, sometimes on the super
sense, and sometimes beneath it.
Q How can one make people who are lacking in education
see a thing that does not exist in their eyes, where they
think there is no such thing as what the aristocratic people
feel as necessary for their happiness?
A Civilization means progress. Those who are not educated,
they must be educated to understand life better. There are
only two things. Either go forward, or go backward. Either
begin to think as everybody else without education thinks,
or take the one who is not educated with you, and go forward.
One thing or the other. As the inner inclination is to go
forward, and to take the one who cannot understand just
now gently ... that the beautiful things are for the benefit
I should think that an ordinary man in the street, he
is neglected. Man turns his back to him. If he was taken
closer to oneself, if he was taught with simplicity and
good will, not showing that he was ignorant of beauty or
culture, but showing him that in this is his real benefit,
I am sure that the conditions, as bad as they are now, will
not be. And there will be a better understanding between
the classes as they are just now.
I will tell you a little example. When traveling in India,
I was staying in a place near a Hindu temple. And there
were two porters who took care of that temple. They were
of Afghanistan, proud and stiff, rough and rigid in their
manner, and yet in their expression there was honesty and
goodness. As I passed through that way I saw them ignoring,
so to speak, my entering and going out, lest they may have
the trouble of observing any conventionalities. One of them
came to me with a message from his master. I got up from
my seat, and I received him most cordially. And since that
time, every time I passed, even if five times in a day,
I was very well-received with smiles, and with very warm
welcome, and there was no more ignoring, because education
was given to that person without hurting his feeling. That
gave him the pleasure. Certainly he thought that he could
give to another also.
To force a virtue upon a person is pride, but to let
him see the beauty of a good manner, that is education.
The condition today would become much better if we would
take that to heart, and know as our sacred task to approach
the people who need ripening, in such a gentle way, with
such sympathy and love, and to develop in their spirit that
culture and beauty which will then be shared between us
The life which we know is from our own life, therefore
the nature and character of that life which is eternal is
beyond man's comprehension. By this it is not meant that
man is incapable of knowing the deeper life, but only that
what man knows of life is from the knowledge of his own
life. The difference between the life known to the generality
and the life which is unknown, is that of illusion and reality.
Man mocks at the idea if he be told that all this is illusion,
until he dives deep and finds out by comparison that this
life which is subject to birth and death and subject to
changes is a life and yet no life. This life is like a bubble
[drop of water]
in the sea. The bubble [drop] is existent and yet in reality non-existent
when compared with the sea. And yet we cannot say that the
bubble [drop of water] is non-existent, for it merges in the same sea in
which it once appeared. So nothing takes it away but its
own source and its original being.
The nature of this life of ours can be better understood
by knowing its secret. And the knowledge of its secret will
certainly enable us to live it to its best advantage. What
happens is this: man, eager and anxious to get the best
out of life, owing to his ignorance, becomes a loser in
the end. In order to know the secret of life one must understand
the law of creation, the law of sustenance and the law of
destruction. We must understand that destruction awaits
every created thing, and to save it from destruction there
is one mystery to be solved and that is the mystery of sustenance.
What happens is that in every activity which is directed
toward a certain result, owing to one's anxiety and eagerness,
one draws that result closer before the time, and in this
way very often man brings about that destruction which,
if he knew that it could be warded off, he would put off
to a later time. By this knowledge one develops patience,
for very often it is the lack of patience which becomes
the cause of destruction. An impatient person tries to reach
too soon that culmination which causes destruction. And
by patience, the one who is able to control his activities
in life will become the sustainer of life and will make
the best of life. In the Hindu mythology Vishnu is the Sustainer,
in other words the king of life.
The science of today, wakened to the same mystery, has
been able to control matter to man's best advantage, more
than we have ever known before in the history of the world.
If the same mystery were used from a spiritual point of
view in everything one does and one wishes to accomplish
in life, success would surely be one's own. In every little
thing one does in life this point of view must be understood.
Even in such things as eating and drinking, if one does
not sustain the rhythm he cannot take the real benefit of
the food he eats and the water that he drinks. The person
who eats beyond the culmination of appetite will always
complain of lack of digestion. So in business, industry,
professions, study, meditation, in all affairs of life,
whether affairs of the heart or of the head, the consideration
of controlling one's activity and guiding it and proceeding
gradually toward a culmination is needed.
Questions and Answers (July 21st 1923)
Q In regarding the activity in life of the Shiva side
of the deity ...?
A It is a subject which is very vast, and it is difficult
to explain that subject in two words. But that aspect of
destruction and knowing about destruction can be easier
understood again by something which we see in the modern
science, by the medium of what they call inoculation. By
putting that destructive element in one's body one makes
one's body disease-proof. That particular disease is no
longer a disease, but the nature of that person. That is
the method of the mystic from a spiritual point of view.
That death is a death so long as man is unacquainted with
it. When man eats it up, then he has eaten death. Death
cannot eat him. Then he knows the life eternal. That is
the mystery of the Message of Jesus Christ. To seek eternal
life from the beginning to the end. The mystery of eternal
life is past once a person has eaten death, then he is eternal.
In little things of life, one person says: 'I do not
like to touch vinegar. It hurts my health'. One person says:
'I cannot bear to eat cream, I cannot digest it'. Another
person says: 'I cannot stand to have sugar in the tea, I
do not like it.' For him the sugar is a poison. If he took
the poison once, the same would become sugar for him. All
things that one thinks that they are foreign to his nature,
by this he makes his nature exclusive. And by becoming exclusive
he makes himself subject to them in a way. There comes a
time when they rule him, a situation when he is under them.
A person who says: 'Bitter quinine, it is too bitter, I
cannot stand it' – he is in a fever, the doctor says he
must have it. He dreads having it. At the same time he cannot
help it. Therefore the way of Shiva was always to work against
one's weaknesses. He counted them as weaknesses, not as
nature. 'Nature, all is my nature, but what I cannot have,
that I make foreign to my nature. If I have separated it,
there comes a time perhaps that I become so weak that I
cannot help having it.' Would you believe that the snake
charmers, I have found some of them who have gradually,
by making the snakes bite them time after time, developed
so that poison does not hurt them. So that when they go,
they just catch the snake in their hand. If the snake bites
them, it does not hurt them. Shiva is pictured with a cobra
round his neck. Out of death he has made a necklace. It
is no more a death to him.
One can go to extremes. But still it is a law that must
be studied and known. The only mystery it teaches is not
to consider anything in nature as foreign to one's nature.
If it were not in use one would not know it. By this one
overcomes all the destruction which is the source of fear
and pain and disappointment.
Q Does it mean that if there is no poison there is no
moral? There is no good and no bad, if there is no poison?
A No. It does not mean that. Good is good, and bad is
bad. But at the same time one can rise above bad, or one
can be submitted to badness. One can become weak before
the evil, or become strong. The idea is to become strong
before the evil instead of weak.
Q If one sees that a thing has begun with precipitance,
what should one do?
A One should be sorry for having begun it too quickly,
and one should try to regulate the rhythm. As in the beginning
there is a need of patience, so also in the end. Patience
should be all along. Patience is the secret of the whole
thing. There are many virtues, but no virtue can be compared
with patience. For it is not only a virtue, it is a power
Q Is it perhaps God's way of making us immune to sorrow,
when He sends us troubles and difficulties?
A Every way is God's way. When He sends us troubles and
difficulties, that is God's way. Neither there is the law
of God to send only sorrow and trouble, nor to send us only
joy and happiness. But if we are thankful, and see the hand
of God in all, we would certainly be grateful – and even
after sorrow – and to see in both the way of God.
Very often there are people more impressed by the doctrine
of Karma, who say that if illness has come, 'Well, now it
is our Karma, that we have to pay the due. Then we must
take it patiently.' I think there is a virtue in it also,
and to see that it is from Karma. But it is not sufficient.
We must know that happiness is our birthright. In our happiness
there is the happiness of God. In our sorrow there is the
pleasure of God. Therefore we must do everything in our
power to get out of that illness, instead of thinking that
the Karma had thrown that illness, and we must lie patiently,
with a rock over us, and not try to push it off because
it is Karma.
Q Is it bad to be too impatient, even for spiritual development?
A 'Too' is always bad. If a person asked me: 'Is it right
to be too good?' It is enough to be good. Impatience of
every kind is to be avoided. One loses one's equilibrium.
There is no gain out of impatience.
A Patience does not necessarily mean sloth, negligence
Q Is in our sorrow not God's sorrow reflected?
A Certainly, as in our happiness God's happiness is reflected,
so in our sorrow God's sorrow is reflected. If God would
not sorrow, man would be greater than God. For man is capable
of two things, and God would only be capable of one.
Q Why did you then say that God is not pleased in our
A I did not mean to say that in our sorrow there is not
God's sorrow, but I meant to say that God is not pleased
– as man is sometimes – in causing sorrow to man. It is
impossible to have no sorrow, but we want balance in sorrow
and joy. When there is too much joy and no sorrow then life
Q After all is it not a good plan for one to look for
the cause of their sorrow or gladness in their own thought
A Sometimes it so happens that it is not conditions which
make sorrow. We allow them to make us sorrowful. It is not
only on their part that it depends, it depends upon both:
a part of the sorrow comes from life, and a part one makes
oneself. Therefore, if there is a response, one helps life
to give a little joy, then the life will give one a little
joy also. But if one prevents the life to give a little
joy then the life becomes helpless.
There may be out of a hundred things ninety-nine in everyday
life that we take too seriously. We might take perhaps one
thing seriously, and of the ninety-nine say: 'It matters
9. The Word 'Shame'
The word 'shame' is used in all different languages,
and, more or less, the meaning of the word as understood
by different people is the same. But the question what,
really, the word 'shame' means could be answered by saying
that shame means 'want.' A feeling which one feels in oneself
of wanting something to make up one's ideal, gives the feeling
which one calls shame. Or when one sees in another person
something wanting, it is that which brings to one's mind
that sense of want, and one expresses that sense by the
word shame. It is interesting to notice that in the Persian
language there is a word Kham (which can also be pronounced
as 'shame'), the meaning of which is 'foolish', but the
true meaning is 'wanting.'
The question arises whether the conception of shame is
inherent or acquired. That is where the point of view of
the mystic differs from the conception of modern psychology.
While modern psychology says that all this is acquired,
the Sufi will say it is inherent. The springing of this
sense in a child is worth noticing, and is of very great
interest to a seer. But when one sees it from a metaphysical
or from a spiritual point of view, it opens up a very vast
field of thought. One learns, by thinking about this sense
of wanting, that the human soul by nature is perfect and
the life of limitation on earth is imperfection. Therefore
the soul continually sees wanting in itself and want in
others, and becomes unhappy over it.
The soul who sees the want in others becomes unhappy
over others. Therefore there will be no end to the unhappiness
of that soul, for there will always be the want in this
life of limitation. But the soul who sees the want in itself
no doubt has a chance to gain all that which is wanting,
although the more a soul will advance the more it will find
It is therefore that the nobler the soul is, the more
sense of shame it has, for that sense is wakened in it.
And the lack of nobleness of spirit is signified by the
lack of that sense. There is one person who fights against
that sense, which in time becomes blunted. And he might
feel happier for the moment, having that sense in him so
blunted. However the limitation is there. The sense of shame
is a channel which leads to that goal which is called perfection.
But no doubt the more it is wakened the more one is subject
to unhappiness. And yet true happiness is in the realization
of perfection, and therefore in the end he does not lose
much, in spite of the apparent gains that come to the one
who is shameless. In practical life in the midst of the
world the shameless has apparently more ease of action and
of movement likewise. The one who has the sense of shame
awakened, for him life is difficult.
But the sense of shame living in the heart of man is
like a pearl in the shell. And as long as it is in the shell
it may not fetch its price, but there is a pearl just the
same. Whatever price the pearl fetches, the market place
is not the place of the pearl. Its real place is the crown
of the king. So a person with real, living quality may not
always be appreciated, may have troubles in life, and yet
sometimes his qualities will fetch their proper price. And
if they did not fetch the proper price still there is no
loss, for beauty in all its aspects is beyond price.
Where does man learn virtue? He learns it from that sense
of shame. And what develops virtue in man? It is again the
same sense. Often this sense works as a sharp knife upon
a feeling heart, but it only makes it a cut diamond. By
this we come to a realization that what is most precious
in life is feeling. And if the feeling sense loses its sharpness,
it is as if man, who is the salt of the earth, has lost
savor; and there is nothing else from where it can be gained.
In all times of the world's history whenever a civilization
had touched its summits, this sense was developed in the
generality. For the heights of every civilization show the
fineness of human feeling, which is the highest of all aspects
The manner of the saints has been to approach God with
this feeling. It is this feeling which made the Prophet
Muhammad cover himself with a mantle every time when the
thought of God came. It is the same feeling which gives
a person modesty. And all the different forms of prayer
have come from this inner tendency of man in the presence
of the God of perfection.
Questions and Answers (August 15th 1923)
Q False accusation fills a child with a sense of shame,
though there is no justification.
A Anything wrongly suggested always has a wrong result.
Sometimes a person carries a sense of shame too far, but
it has its own value when it is used rightly.
Often people have done great things, beyond their ordinary
power, taken hold of by their sense of shame. They get such
a desire to amend that they are awakened from a sense of
death, they make superhuman efforts and they live again.
Repentance is the outcome of shame.
When the sense becomes more living the person feels the
lack in himself and so he respects the lack in others. So
what he does is to cover the lack of another, instead of
exposing it by criticism. When he develops further he sees
other persons exposing their own lacking. So the pain of
the wise and of the saintly souls is the pain they feel
for others as if for themselves. They feel it like a knife.
Spiritual life means to feel the life of another man as
one feels one's own life. It looks so cruel on the part
of man to expose the lack of another. It may satisfy his
vanity or bring him a moment's pleasure, but from the spiritual
point of view it looks very cruel. One can overcome this
by feeling the oneness of life, the same life in him and
in me, so his pain, his sorrow, his pleasure I share, because
his life is my life. So people cannot but be sympathetic
to all in life, and have more or less love, but the difficulty
is they do not know how to use it to their best advantage.
Q Will you please explain from the lesson on 'shame':
'The sense of shame is like a pearl in a shell?' And further:
'The price cannot be given in the market place. The place
of that pearl is the crown of the king?'
A That means that a virtue like this is appreciated and
understood and rewarded fully in its right place. That is
why it is said: 'In the crown of the king.' Everybody does
not appreciate a person with this virtue. The person who
has not got this virtue cannot appreciate it. Therefore
for a greater person a greater place is required.
Tolerance is the sign of an evolved soul, for a soul
shows the proof of its evolution in the degree of the tolerance
it shows. The life in the lower creation shows the lack
of tolerance. The tendency of fighting with one another,
which one sees among beasts and birds, shows the reason
at the back of it, that intolerance is born in their nature.
By a psychological study of the nature and the tendencies
of the lower creation one will find that the evolution that
takes place among birds and beasts shows this tendency of
intolerance becoming less and less. It is the love element
developing in their nature which brings them together to
form flocks and herds. The same tendency of intolerance
sometimes manifests in a more distinct and pronounced form
in man. The reason is that man's responsibility in life
is greater, his difficulties are many, and he lives in a
crowd which is larger than a flock or a herd.
At the back of this tendency there is a most wonderful
secret hidden, the depths of which are fathomed by the mystic.
The mystic, who sees God within and without both, who recognizes
God in unity and in variety both, the mystic realizes that
it is the One who has known Himself to be One, who does
not know of two, who feels uncomfortable and agitated, and
shows a revolt on knowing that: 'There exists another besides
Me.' And it is, therefore, that the birds have the tendency
to fight with their own element, and so, the same thing
one finds among the beasts. Among men, man is the enemy
of man, and woman of woman. The rivalry that exists between
professions and between people of the same position and
between nations shows the same thing, that one principle
that the nature of the ego, through every name and form,
revolts against another, especially of the same name and
form, in some way or other. One may give a thousand reasons
for intolerance. They exist too, but the inner reason is
one and the same in all aspects of intolerance. The Sufis
have called it Kibriya, which means vanity, vanity of the
One to Whom alone it belongs.
As one evolves spiritually so a person seems to rise
above this natural tendency of intolerance, for the reason
that he begins to see, besides himself and the second person,
God; and he unites himself with the other person in God.
It is the third person whose love or devotion makes two
people unite. For instance, the children of the same parents
love one another in realization of the idea that they are
of the same parents. The people of one nation love one another
in the thought that they belong to one nation. And when
two people tolerate one another with the thought of God
as their Creator and as their support, then they are more
evolved, because they can tolerate anyone of any country
or race, of whatever name or form.
But when a soul has evolved still more, tolerance becomes
the natural thing for him. Because the highly evolved soul
then begins to realize 'Another person is not separate from
me, but the other person is myself. The separation is on
the surface of life, but in the depth of life I and the
other person are one.'
Therefore tolerance is not learned fully by trying to
follow it as a good principle. It is learned by having the
love of God, by attaining the knowledge of self, and by
understanding the truth of life. There is no need to ask
further about a person who, you think, is spiritual. Once
he says, 'I tolerate all,' this is certainly the proof of
Questions and Answers (August 4th 1923)
Q Does the law of attraction work on a scientific basis,
according to the law of vibrations?
A Yes, there is a law hidden under every activity; and
therefore certainly there is a law of vibration in every
activity. No movement is free from the law of vibration.
Therefore in attraction and repulsion also.
Mastery comes from evolution of the soul. And the sign
of mastery is to conquer everything that revolts one. And
that is tolerance. And the souls, who have attained to some
degree that spiritual mastery, they will see with me, not
only with people, but even with the food, that where a person
will say, 'This I do not like, that I will not eat', the
soul who has gained the mastery rejects nothing. It may
not approve of it; it may not be especially attracted to
it. And then with the weather, the masterly soul will not
say, 'It is too hot', or 'too damp', or 'too dry.' 'We do
not tolerate what is before us.' It is hard to tolerate,
but we cannot help to meet it. The difference is in tolerating
it. The whole system of the Yogis, especially of the Shiva
Bhaktis, is based on making oneself acquainted with something
that the nature revolts against. In this way they could
go too far in tormenting themselves. The extremity in all
things is not right. At the same time that is the principle.
It is not the food but how the person accepts it, if
he eats it. Thought works with simple food like medicine.
If he says, 'It will do me good', it can cure. There are
Yogis just now who will drink poison and not die, or jump
into the fire and not be burnt. It is a practice to see
that even the element such as fire ... Because you will
find the intolerant souls most unhappy. Everything hurts
them, food, water, air, the change of the weather; every
person they see hurts them. Where should they be, uncomfortable
in the house, and restless outside?
Q What to say to such a one?
A It is very difficult. Therefore that tendency of rejecting,
dislikes, prejudices, it is that tendency which must be
conquered. It gives such a one mastery.
I remember my own experience once that in the school
my teacher sad that there was a tree, that the leaves of
that tree are very good for a person. They purify the blood
– that did not interest me. But, he said, it is so bitter
that you cannot drink it nor taste it, nor touch it. I thought
'I think I can!' I did not care for the medicine, I only
thought, 'If I cannot, no one can!' I went home and gathered
leaves, and everybody could not understand why I was gathering
the leaves. It is bitterer than the water in the sea. I
drank it, and my satisfaction was that I did not even make
a face. I was not tired of it, I continued for five, six
It is a demand on the part of a person, if he wants to
fight against all things. That gives the mastery. One does
not fight mostly. One always fights against things that
prevent getting what he wants. If one could fight with oneself,
then one would fight against the tendency of rejecting.
That leads in the end to mastery.
Q I thought it was no use trying to force yourself.
A As a general principle in life, there is no use to
force. But to train oneself is another thing. It is a method.